From left to right: Margarita Moiseyenko, Galina Yatsik and Yelena Yatsyk in the courtroom

Unjust Verdicts

The Court in the Amur Region Handed Down Suspended Sentences of Two to Three Years to Three Women for Reading the Bible

Amur Region

On September 21, 2023, the Judge, Ivan Moiseyenko of the Zeya District Court of the Amur Region, found Margarita Moiseyenko, 44, Yelena Yatsyk, 51, and Galina Yatsik, 72, guilty of participating in the activities of an extremist organization and sentenced them to suspended sentences.

The prosecutor asked to send the believers to a penal colony for terms of two and a half to three years, but the court gave Margarita Moiseyenko, three years suspended sentence with deprivation of the right to engage in activities related to leadership and participation in the work of public organizations for three years and restriction of liberty for ten months with a probationary period of three years. Galina Yatsik received a two years of suspended sentence with deprivation of the right to engage in activities related to leadership and participation in the work of public organizations for three years, restriction of liberty for six months with a probationary period of two years. The judge sentenced Yelena Yatsyk to two and a half years suspended sentence with deprivation of the right to engage in activities related to leadership and participation in the work of public organizations for three years, restriction of liberty for eight months with a probationary period of two years. The verdict has not entered into force and can be appealed.

Believers do not agree with the court's decision. Yelena Yatsyk emphasized this position when she stated in her last word: "I do not consider myself guilty and do not intend to give up my religious beliefs. I am sure that I have the right to continue to practice the religion of my own choice. This right is guaranteed to me by Article 28 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation. Galina Yatsik told the court: "There is no corpus delicti in my actions, as my motive is love for God and love for people . . . My conscience is clear both before God and before the state."

In March 2019, the first search took place at Moiseyenko family's home after which a criminal case was initiated against Konstantin, Margarita's husband. A year and a half later, searches were also carried out at the homes of Yelena Yatsyk and Galina Yatsik. In November 2021, investigator V. S. Obukhov, known for other cases against believers from the Amur region, initiated a criminal case against three women. In March 2023, the case went to court.

"The reality today is that civilians are unreasonably labeled as extremism," Margarita Moiseyenko said before the sentencing. "Unfortunately, the prosecutor was not looking for any signs of extremist activity, but the way I expressed my faith." She added: "Believing in God for me is the same as breathing. If I am not allowed to peacefully practice my faith because you see signs of extremism in it, although there is no hint of something like, it makes me feel as if I can't breath.

In the Amur Region, 23 Jehovah's Witnesses, including five women, have already become defendants in criminal cases for their faith.

The case of Margarita Moiseenko and others in Zeya

Case history
In October 2020, searches were carried out in 8 homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses, which were supervised by the FSB. In November 2021, a criminal case was initiated against Margarita Moiseenko, whose husband Konstantinhas already been sentenced to 6 years suspended for believing in Jehovah God, Galina Yatsyk and Yelena Yatsyk for participating in the activities of an extremist organization. The women were given a written undertaking not to leave the place. In March 2023, their case went to court. The prosecutor requested 2.5 to 3 years in prison for women. In September, the court sentenced them to suspended sentences: Margarita Moiseenko to three years, Elena Yatsyk to two and a half, and Galina Yatsyk to two years. In November, an appeal upheld the verdict, excluding the ban on holding certain positions.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Amur Region
Locality:
Zeya
Suspected of:
According to the investigation, "realizing that by his actions he undermines the foundations of the constitutional order and security of the state ... were directly involved in... religious events."
Court case number:
12107100001000049
Initiated:
November 22, 2021
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
Investigating:
Branch of the Federal Security Service of Russia in the Amur Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-62/2023
Court of First Instance:
Зейский районный суд Амурской области
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Иван Моисеенко
Background